THE City of Durham appeared to be most happily adapted to my wishes for a retired life; not only from its romantic situation, but from its being the abode of a friend whose manners were so congenial with my own, and whose society afforded me such heartfelt delight. To Durham therefore I was now determined to direct my steps, intending to settle there, and once more enjoy the company of my worthy friend Ebdon.
A few days before my departure from London to realize this happiness, the anticipation of which brought tears of pleasure to my eyes, I had the good fortune to meet with a friend from the north, who politely offered to conduct me to Durham, at which city he resides. I availed myself of his kindness; and we had no sooner arrived there, than he did me the honour to introduce me to his lady, who received me with all the polite attention and affability which so naturally spring from her amiable disposition.
After I had paid my respects to this esteemed gentlewoman, I immediately attended to that object which was nearest to my heart, and hastened to see my good friend Mr. Ebdon, whose share in my affections and esteem remained still undiminished. I informed him, on our meeting, that I had now quitted the busy theatre of the world, and its noisy and promiscuous intercourse, which had unmercifully robbed me of so many precious hours, that might, in retirement, have been devoted to a much better use in the improvement of the mind. I must now at the same time confess, observed I, that I have found travelling an excellent school for acquiring a more extensive and accurate knowledge of mankind; as it presents to our view such an astonishing variety of characters, minds, and manners of every description, and makes us acquainted with the moral, as well as the natural, phenomena of the world. I have, however, now obtained from that school all the knowledge I desire, and am not sorry to find myself safely lodged at last, in this snug little corner of the earth. My dear friend Ebdon, with his amiable family, happy to find that such were my sentiments, and rejoicing in the prospect of my being at length freed from the troubles of the world, offered me, with most engaging frankness, a quiet asylum in his house.
This generous proposal convinced me, that I had now found one with whom friendship was something more than a bare name; one in whose breast its noble and genuine principles were carefully cherished. I could not but reflect on the contrast he presented to the generality of those whom the world compliments with the title of friends,-- who too often mock our expectations of a substance, with an empty shadow; and I felt happy in being enabled to enjoy, in the decline of life, the serene and steady light of a sincere attachment, secure from the deceitful blaze of common friendship, which in a moment disappears, and leaves us involved in dismal darkness. Convinced as I was, that with Mr. Ebdon I incurred no risk of being deluded by the vain professions of an inconstant pretender of friendship; but that the proposal of this worthy man arose from the goodness of his disposition, and from the impulse of those feelings which prompted him to secure for me a happy retreat, I could not resist such kindness, but readily accepted his generous offer. My expectation of happiness in his society were fully realized; and deeply must I regret, that it was so soon to have an end. Unfortunately for myself, his family, and friends, he was seized with a dangerous illness. Recourse was had, in vain, to all the help of medical art, and within a few months he died, with the same tranquillity and calmness of soul which had attended him through life, This sad event, which I cannot even now recall to mind without a tear, wounded my feelings deeply: severe, however, as was my grief, it seemed fully warranted by the consciousness I possessed, how worthy to be lamented was my departed friend; and I could not but look on the occasion as one of those which might, even in the sight of Heaven, justify my sorrow. My grief was soon perceived by the Misses Ebdon, who knowing that it proceeded from my affection to their father, generously proposed that we should remain together. This unexpected honour I accepted with much pleasure. From that time my days have been spent in their society, and to this moment I still employ myself in studying to evince the gratitude I feel for that kindness which has enabled me to enjoy my beloved retreat, with those who had been the happy witnesses of my introduction to it, and who are so nearly allied, as well by disposition as by blood, to that lamented friend to whom I owe the blessing.